Bentworth coach Niziol preaches patience, hard work
Second-year Bentworth head football coach Bob Niziol is trying to revitalize the Bearcats program, but he knows there is a lot of work to do and it will take time.
The team has had just one winning season in the past 10 years. The Bearcats went 6-5 with a playoff win and WPIAL Class A quarterfinal appearance in 2005.
Outside of that season, the Bearcats have not won more than three games in a season and have a cumulative 23-72-1 record since 2003.
Niziol knows patience will be a key and is fully aware of the adage, “Rome wasn't built in a day.”
A huge key for the team, Niziol said, is that the players will be familiar with the systems.
“This is the first time in my five years here that the team is keeping the same offense and defense,” he said. “We streamline what we put in and the kids are comfortable.
“The kids have recalled things from last year and that is helpful, and our football IQ has improved.”
But as it is any time a coaching staff tries to get things going, there are always negatives to go with positives.
While the Bearcats have 25 players on their roster, Niziol said only a fraction of them showed up for offseason activities.
“We usually only had about eight kids around,” he said. “We didn't have a great turnout.”
Niziol's second team will be extremely young, with just two seniors on the roster, one of whom has never played.
The senior with experience, Mason Shumaker, is a team captain, as is junior quarterback Angelo Rios-Lopez.
“We realize that we are young and have a lot of sophomores and juniors that will be getting time and experience,” Niziol said. “Hopefully we can put things together.”
Shumaker is a returning starter and will start on the offensive line, although Niziol and his staff are figuring out the best combination.
The other lineman will be juniors Dustin Carpenter, Dave Sacco and Matt Hall, along with sophomore Shawn Holbert.
Regardless of who is where on the line, they will have to protect Rios-Lopez, a wide receiver a year ago.
The offense will be geared around multiple sets, including the shotgun, the spread, and the “I.”
Sophomore Ethan Tush is the tailback, while junior Matt McMillan is the fullback. Sophomore Ty Mitchell will also see time in the backfield.
Junior Rudy Davilla, sophomores Noah Peternel and Tyler Beightol and freshman Riley Nickeson lead the receiving core. Sophomore Noah Brown is the tight end.
Defensively, the Bearcats will run a base 4-3 set.
Holbert and Carpenter are the defensive ends. Shumaker and Sacco are the starting defensive tackles with freshman Derek Richards seeing snaps as well.
Hall and Brown are the outside linebackers and McMillan is the middle linebacker.
Mitchell and Davilla are the cornerbacks and Tush is the strong safety.
Peternel and Beightol will both see time as the free safety next to Tush.
Rios-Lopez will handle the kicking and punting duties.
What kind of expectations does Niziol have?
“I want us to improve upon the previous year,” he said. “A core group of the guys will hopefully lead us to better performances in games.”
Bentworth graduated nine seniors from a year ago.
“We are returning one starter on the offensive line and three skill players who will move around,” Niziol said. “Defensively, we return one starter on the line and three in the secondary.”
The Bearcats are in the Tri-County South and open conference play Friday when they host West Greene.
Niziol says he has a feel for the Tri-County South.
“Beth-Center is the perennial power and Jefferson-Morgan has numbers,” he said. “Frazier is pretty solid and Carmichaels was the most solid team we faced last year.”
Bill Hughes s a freelance writer.